When you see a chimpanzee in a sanctuary, or even in a home, most people assume that the animal is happy, because they do in fact display many positive signs. They seem happy. They seem to act normally, and they eat well.
However, recent research has indicated something significantly different. It would appear as though, according to the research, that chimps that are either raised amongst humans, by humans, or are raised to be performers suffer serious social deficiencies amongst their own species.
To the surprise of many of the researchers, the animals don’t become overly aggressive towards humans, or even other chimpanzees. They actually just become disconnected. For example, the biggest trend researchers noticed was a regular failure to participate in social grooming, which is the equivalent to a handshake by humans.
In the chimp world, it equates to friendship. Not grooming other chimps socially, would be like a human reaching out to shake someone’s hand, and them just not shake the hand that’s sitting in front of them. It creates an awkward social tension.
No, it doesn’t lead to, or cause any direct confrontation – but it’s socially awkward, and these are the types of things we’re seeing in these chimps – according to the researchers.
Chimps that are raised to interact with humans will obviously act differently than those raised in the wild, but the research found that the effects of being raised, or being in captivity for extended periods of time have impacts that last long beyond the chimps captivity. Sometimes the effects can last decades after the chimp is moved to a sanctuary that is socially normal – to chimpanzee standards.
This research further advocates for the individuals who have been saying this for a while. While the research is new, and fresh, animal advocates have been saying things like this about animals in captivity for some time.
Now though, with some actual science and research to back it up – the assertions that others have made about chimps in captivity may finally be heeded. The impacts on the animals are tangible, and the solution – while it may take time to correct – is certainly attainable.